Mahayana

  • map showing the three major buddhist divisions.

    mahāyāna (sanskrit: महायान, romanizedmahāyāna; english: ə/; "great vehicle") is one of two main existing branches of buddhism (the other being theravada) and a term for classification of buddhist philosophies and practice. this movement added a further set of discourses, and although it was initially small in india, it had long-term historical significance.[1] the buddhist tradition of vajrayāna is sometimes classified as a part of mahāyāna buddhism, but some scholars consider it to be a different branch altogether.[2]

    "mahāyāna" also refers to the path of the bodhisattva seeking complete enlightenment for the benefit of all sentient beings, also called "bodhisattvayāna", or the "bodhisattva vehicle".[3][note 1] a bodhisattva who has accomplished this goal is called a samyaksaṃbuddha, or "fully enlightened buddha". a samyaksaṃbuddha can establish the dharma and lead disciples to enlightenment. mahāyāna buddhists teach that enlightenment can be attained in a single lifetime, and this can be accomplished even by a layperson.[4]

    the mahāyāna tradition is the largest major tradition of buddhism existing today, with 53% of practitioners, compared to 36% for theravada and 6% for vajrayana in 2010.[5]

    in the course of its history, mahāyāna buddhism spread from india to various other south, east and southeast asian countries such as bangladesh, nepal, bhutan, china, taiwan, mongolia, korea, japan, vietnam, indonesia, malaysia and singapore. mahayana buddhism also spread to other south and southeast asian countries, such as afghanistan, thailand, cambodia, laos, the maldives, pakistan, sri lanka, burma, iran and other central asian countries before being replaced by theravada buddhism, islam, or other religions.[6]

    large mahāyāna scholastic centers such as nalanda thrived during the latter period of buddhism in india, between the seventh and twelfth centuries.[1] major traditions of mahāyāna buddhism today include chan buddhism, korean seon, japanese zen, pure land buddhism, nichiren buddhism and vietnamese buddhism. it may also include the vajrayana traditions of tiantai, tendai, shingon buddhism, and tibetan buddhism, which add esoteric teachings to the mahāyāna tradition.

  • etymology
  • history
  • doctrine
  • scripture
  • theravāda school
  • see also
  • notes
  • references
  • sources
  • further reading
  • external links

Mahāyāna (Sanskrit: महायान, romanizedmahāyāna; English: ə/; "Great Vehicle") is one of two main existing branches of Buddhism (the other being Theravada) and a term for classification of Buddhist philosophies and practice. This movement added a further set of discourses, and although it was initially small in India, it had long-term historical significance.[1] The Buddhist tradition of Vajrayāna is sometimes classified as a part of Mahāyāna Buddhism, but some scholars consider it to be a different branch altogether.[2]

"Mahāyāna" also refers to the path of the Bodhisattva seeking complete enlightenment for the benefit of all sentient beings, also called "Bodhisattvayāna", or the "Bodhisattva Vehicle".[3][note 1] A bodhisattva who has accomplished this goal is called a samyaksaṃbuddha, or "fully enlightened Buddha". A samyaksaṃbuddha can establish the Dharma and lead disciples to enlightenment. Mahāyāna Buddhists teach that enlightenment can be attained in a single lifetime, and this can be accomplished even by a layperson.[4]

The Mahāyāna tradition is the largest major tradition of Buddhism existing today, with 53% of practitioners, compared to 36% for Theravada and 6% for Vajrayana in 2010.[5]

In the course of its history, Mahāyāna Buddhism spread from India to various other South, East and Southeast Asian countries such as Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan, China, Taiwan, Mongolia, Korea, Japan, Vietnam, Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore. Mahayana Buddhism also spread to other South and Southeast Asian countries, such as Afghanistan, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, the Maldives, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Burma, Iran and other Central Asian countries before being replaced by Theravada Buddhism, Islam, or other religions.[6]

Large Mahāyāna scholastic centers such as Nalanda thrived during the latter period of Buddhism in India, between the seventh and twelfth centuries.[1] Major traditions of Mahāyāna Buddhism today include Chan Buddhism, Korean Seon, Japanese Zen, Pure Land Buddhism, Nichiren Buddhism and Vietnamese Buddhism. It may also include the Vajrayana traditions of Tiantai, Tendai, Shingon Buddhism, and Tibetan Buddhism, which add esoteric teachings to the Mahāyāna tradition.